Illini Receive Pleasant Surprise With Henry

Mycheal Henry (Jack Lyman)

The Fighting Illini basketball team received a pleasant surprise Monday as Chicago Orr shooting guard Mycheal Henry called to confirm his commitment for the 2011 class. He joins Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu in what is become one of the best classes in Illini basketball history with one or two positions remaining to be filled.

Mycheal Henry came on like gangbusters this past high school season. As he grew into his body and gained confidence, a star began to emerge. Once considered an undersized inside player, Henry blossomed into a tremendous wing prospect.

Henry can hit the three consistently and drive for resounding dunks. And he has an outstanding midrange game. He can stop-and-pop, and he can post up effectively. During his breakout year with Chicago Orr High School, he quickly became a high priority for Illinois.

Henry visited for a game during the season, and he came in again last Saturday. He found several reasons to favor the Illini.

"The coaches, the players that's coming in, the players that are there already, the facilities, and the environment."

While his time on campus was short, he saw enough last Saturday to finalize his college decision.

"I watched them play, then I went with the coaches around campus, met with the players."

One week earlier, he played with his Mac Irvin Fire AAU team at a tournament in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At that time, he said Providence and Marquette were the latest schools to contact him. He planned to make summer trips to Wisconsin, Baylor and Georgetown, among others. Why did he change his mind and decide to commit at this time?

"Just to get the monkey off my back."

The 6'-5" Henry is becoming comfortable playing on the wing after frequently playing inside for his high school team as one of their tallest players. But he still has things to learn.

"I still need to fix a couple things, but I think I'm coming along real well. Just the dribbling and the passing."

The Fire is generously endowed with talent, so Henry sometimes defers to superstars like Wayne Blackshear. But when Blackshear went down with a sprained ankle, the real Henry began to emerge.

He almost single handedly kept the Fire in the game against a powerful Meanstreets squad. They eventually lost, but Henry showed some of his vast potential. And he did much of his damage from outside. He admits shooting guard is somewhat new for him, but he has adapted quickly.

"Yeah, but I got used to it after awhile."

Illini assistant coach Jerrance Howard was the leading recruiter for the Illini. His effervescent personality and persistence paid off.

"He's a real singular guy. He's fun to be around."

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